Whose Line Is It Anyway…

Whose Line Is It Anyway… after the break…

Whose Line Is It Anyway…

“Whose Line Is It Anyway?” is an improvisational comedy show which apparently has more lives then a cat revived from cryostasis. Fortunately, for the viewing public, the show’s tendency to keep on living in one format or another is only a positive for the viewing public. It’s latest incarnation is no different and, despite some misgivings about the level of sexual humor, the show continues to be fairly enjoyable.

The show is a slight mockery of a typical 1970’s game show where “the points don’t matter” because the show is broken down into friendly challenges given to the improv players, three of whom are professional improv comedians while one is guest comedian. An additional guest is included in a few of the challenges but is merely a famous celebrity (“famous” being relative in this day and age) and their abilities at improv will vary widely.

About the only significant differences between the most modern incarnation of this program on the CW network as opposed to the earlier ABC version is the change of host (Drew Carey, the original American host, now hosts the more prestigious “The Price Is Right” game show) and the inclusion of a celebrity as a regular feature. In the two episodes I viewed, there was very little audience participation (two purses were borrowed from the audience) which is unfortunate but perhaps other episodes will differ.

If you’ve seen “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” not much has changed (Heck, they even brought back the same background keyboard player – I’m curious if the chairs and pencils are from the old ABC version as well). Improv players receive a challenge and then proceed to make that challenge as humorous as possible. The three main improv players are all proven veterans and so there is no suspense whether they can generate the instant humor; They can. The guest comedian, in the two episodes I have seen, seem to perform an amiable job at holding their own. The host is less involved in the theatrics then in the ABC version, relegated to laughing hysterically and manically pressing a buzzer to indicate the end of a challenge.

The only negative impression I feel are the celebrity guests which could prove highly uneven. For a show that relies heavily on improv comedy, some people have that ability and others painfully do not. When an ordinary citizen painfully displays that non-ability, it is a little entertaining because the audience can relate to similar situations where ordinary people are thrust into having to perform very unorthodox activities (Parents, for example, are probably nodding their heads at that statement to the point where a trip to the chiropractor might be beneficial for them). Yet when a celebrity displays that non-ability rather painfully, there is less to laugh at or even with; It merely reminds the viewer that wealthy people are having fun at your expense and you now have the additional humiliation of watching it as well – “Oh, look – I can’t dance to save my life but, too bad, I still make more per episode then you’ll ever make in five whole years at that crappy menial slave labor job of yours. Here, watch me butcher this next line while I officially don’t give a darn.”

Supposedly, there are already 10 episodes made of this show. Whether or not the show returns for another batch of episodes (or even an entire new season) is not certain as ratings expectations for shows on networks that are neither considered major or even mid-level is nil to none. Odds are, the series won’t last as long as the ABC version but, barring the celebrity guest, it really isn’t all that bad and if they limit that guest to guests that have comedic timing then even that one slightly negative aspect could probably be over looked as well.

“Whose Line Is It Anyway?” is not a revolution in comedy or television but, for 30 minutes, it doesn’t have to be – It just has to be amusing and it is. While I would prefer a bit less R-rated suggestiveness in their humor (Yes, I realize that the proverbial crotch kick is a surefire way of guffawing a crowd but only when used sparingly and not by the handful), the return of the series is a rather welcome sight to see. I’ll be sure to give this new version a chance.


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